How to Become an HVAC Technician in Arkansas
A career in HVAC is a promising one for people interested in skilled trades. Technicians in this industry install, maintain, inspect and repair heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigerant systems. The number of jobs available is growing, and there is good demand everywhere, including in Arkansas, for qualified HVAC and refrigeration technicians. [Leer en español]
Requirements for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Arkansas
HVAC technicians in Arkansas must be licensed through the state. Those who work with refrigerants also need to be certified through the federal government. Arkansas does not require any specific path to becoming licensed, but you do need to have either work experience or an appropriate education in HVAC, or both. The two common ways of getting that experience and working toward licensure and a career in HVAC are to complete a post-secondary educational program or to seek an apprenticeship for on-the-job training.
HVAC Programs in Arkansas
If you choose to earn a degree or diploma first, you may want to choose programs that are accredited by either the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) or HVAC Excellence.
- Arkansas State University, Beebe. The air conditioning technology program at the Beebe campus of ASU offers a proficiency certificate, a technical certificate and an Associate of Applied Science degree in General Technology. All of these take two years or less to complete. These programs are accredited by HVAC Excellence.
- Arkansas Tech University, Ozark. In Ozark, students can choose to complete either a certificate program or a two-year associate’s degree program in air conditioning and refrigeration, both of which are accredited by HVAC Excellence. Students are prepared to begin working in HVAC positions and to seek licensure.
- National Park College, Hot Springs. National Park offers students a different type of program. It is a three-year apprenticeship. Students are matched with a local company and learn on the job. They also take 160 hours of coursework.
- Penn Foster. For students who cannot access the campuses in the state with HVAC programs, Penn Foster offers an online certificate program. It can be completed on your timeline and is more affordable than on-campus programs.
Certification and Licensing for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Arkansas
The Arkansas Department of Health and Arkansas Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Licensing Board license HVAC and refrigeration technicians in the state. There are several licensure levels available:
- Class A—All HVAC and refrigeration work with no limitations
- Class B—HVAC and refrigeration work on systems that develop no more than 15 tons of cooling per unit or one million BTUH heating per unit
- Class C—Allows work on systems as described in Class B, but no installation of new systems or replacement of old systems
- Class D—Sheet metal work on ducts and HVAC systems
- Class E—Refrigeration work, but no installation of HVAC systems
To qualify for HVAC and refrigeration licenses in Arkansas, individuals must be at least 18 years old, pass an examination and show proof of two years of work experience. Educational experience through approved programs can count for work experience.
Additionally, any HVAC techs working with refrigerants must be certified through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), per the Clean Air Act. To get EPA Section 608 certification you must pass a related examination.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
All over the country, careers are booming for qualified HVAC workers. You can expect great job stability in this field as it continues to grow at a rate of 15 percent, faster than average job growth. In Arkansas, demand is even greater for HVAC techs. Technicians in the state earn a good living too.The average salary in May 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $38,720 per year and $18.62 per hour.
Working as an HVAC Technician in Arkansas
There are many job opportunities for qualified HVAC technicians in Arkansas, but more jobs are available in and around Little Rock, Fort Smith, Fayetteville and Springdale. Contracting companies are the main employers of HVAC techs, although some people work for themselves or are hired by government agencies, schools and industrial companies.
If you are looking into an HVAC career in Arkansas, it’s a good choice. With just two years of learning and training you’ll be ready to get hired for one of the many available positions in the state.